RECENT CHANGES IN RESIDENTIAL LANDLORD TENANT LAW

Under a change in the law, all residential premises are now required to have a carbon monoxide detector placed on each habitable level and where there are bedrooms, within ten feet of all bedroom doors. The requirement does not apply to basements unless there are sleeping quarters in a basement. The detectors are only required in residences where there is fossil fuel burning equipment, such as fireplaces, hot water heaters, furnaces, and the like or indoor parking. The detectors may be either battery operated or hard wired. Those who choose hardwiring will be allowed until January 1, 2007 to comply with the new law. The regulations governing hardwired CO detectors are a little more complicated than the requirements for battery operated detectors.

You should consult with your attorney for the details thereof.

Each landlord, manager or person controlling residential premises must "maintain, test, repair, or replace, if necessary," all such detectors either upon renewal of the tenancy or annually, whichever is more frequent. "All carbon monoxide alarm batteries shall be replaced, on an annual basis by the owner, landlord or superintendent." 527 CMR 31.06.

The detectors in every such building must be inspected by the Fire Department upon sale or transfer. The landlord will not be charged an additional fee for said inspection if the carbon monoxide alarm inspection is done simultaneously with the smoke detector inspection.

The design of the defectors must comply with requirements of the National Fire Protection Association, or NFPA.

The law allows for the State Building Department to issue stricter regulations for new or substantially renovated housing. If the building permit has been issued after the March 31 deadline, the property will be controlled by the stricter regulations whenever they issue.

And, of course, as you might expect, the new law allows the Department of Public Health to issue new regulations as a part of the State Sanitary Code which will govern enforcement mechanisms for tenants.

The CO alarms are not cheap. Retail, they run upwards of approximately $23 each. Then they must be installed.

Ward & Associates Attorneys at Law

21 Oak Square Avenue

Brighton, MA 02135

617 202-5200 (office)

617-202-4417 (fax)